Understanding the Face of a Stock Certificate
Stock certificates represent physical proof that a shareholder owns stocks or bonds. The stock certificate contains specific information regarding the shareholder as well as the stock they hold. This information includes:
Company name - the company name (or the name of the municipality in the case of municipal bonds) is typically found at the top of the stock certificate;
Number of shares - the number of shares owned by the shareholder is found on the stock certificate. In the case of a bond, the certificate typically shows "units" versus shares;
CUSIP number - the Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures number identifies the company through an alpha-numeric code;
Shareholder name - the owner (or joint owners) of the shares of the company;
Issue date - the date that the stock certificate was issued;
Stock class - there will be a notation on the certificate indicating whether it is common stock or preferred stock;
Signatures - generally, there are two signatures on a stock certificate. These are principals authorized to issue the stock on behalf of the company.
Shareholders frequently wonder how to transfer stock certificates to brokerage account. This part is critical for a shareholder who wishes to sell their stock. A brokerage cannot liquidate shares of stocks (or bonds) unless they are able to deliver a certificate.